Sunday, September 17, 2017

Constitution Day

On this day in 1787, the Constitutional Convention concluded and presented their results to the States for Ratification.

After being ratified by a majority of the States in 1788, the Constitution became the law of the land in 1789. By 1790, the two remaining States to not ratify it beforehand, Rhode Island and North Carolina, finally ratified the document as well.

The document was controversial at first, especially in New York. In response, New York's delegates (John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton) wrote 85 newspaper editorials extolling the document's virtues to the citizens using the sobriquet 'Publius'. These editorials have since become known as the Federalist Papers. Those papers have also been quite informative to numerous SCOTUS decisions since then, often cited as evidence of the Framers' original intent/interpretation of Constitutional Law.

The document was quickly amended by the first Congress and President Washington with the first 10 Amendments in 1791. This had the effect of both codifying a citizen's rights into law and addressing the concerns of the Anti-Federalist movement.

References:

U.S. Constitution - Archives.gov

https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution

U.S. Constitution - Wikipedia.org

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Constitution

U.S. Constitution - White House.gov

https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/constitution

U.S. Constitution - Government Publishing Office

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CDOC-110hdoc50/pdf/CDOC-110hdoc50.pdf

The Bill of Rights - Archives.org

https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/bill-of-rights

Amendments 11-27 - Archives.org

https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/amendments-11-27

The Federalist Papers - Congress.gov
https://www.congress.gov/resources/display/content/The+Federalist+Papers

Anti-Federalist Papers - The Federalist Papers.org

http://thefederalistpapers.org/anti-federalist-papers

Constitution Day

http://www.constitutionday.com/

Publius Valerius Publicola - Wikipedia.org

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publius_Valerius_Publicola


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Contact Cleaner is a Retro-Gamer's best friend

I once had a box with 78 (seemingly) dead Atari 2600 cartridges in my possession. Using Isopropyl Alcohol and/or 409 on the cartridge contacts didn't get them to work again. So, I picked up some electrical contact cleaner from Home Depot and decided to use that instead. I had heard about a name brand contact cleaner called DeoxIT from a popular YouTube channel called John's Arcade. John routinely used the stuff to clean electrical contacts inside of arcade games and pinball tables that he would service, repair and restore. Home Depot didn't have the DeoxIT brand, just some generic looking product from a company called CRC. I bought a can anyway because I figured that I had nothing to lose if the cartridges were indeed actually dead.

Thankfully, at least some of these carts were not dead. Of the 78 total, I have managed to get 41 cartridges working again. That brings my overall count of working cartridges for Atari 2600 to a whopping 225. That puts it way in the lead fot system with the most individual titles. The closest second would be the NES at 146. I find this to be rather amazing and impressive.

I haven't given up on the cartridges that still don't work. Some of them couldn't be cleaned and then re-tested because of a small plastic door in the cartridge shell that protects the contacts/circuit board from the outside world. The 2600 console can push that plastic shield back but, my fingers can't. Also, I don't want to try to take these old cartridges apart because that would ruin the labels. A lot of those games already have really bad labels right now. No need for me to make that worse. Besides, I may not be able to get them back together again in quite the right way. I have no trouble taking apart cartridges for Nintendo systems but, I've never done it with an Atari cartridge before.

Here's a picture of the 2 shelves that I now have holding loose Atari 5200 games. The one on the left used to hold them all but, it's now completely filled with 200 of them. Another 11 loose carts are on the top shelf of the small shelf to the right. The other 14 carts I have for the Atari 2600 are in boxes on another shelf or on two display easels on top of the shelves picture here. Those games on the display easels are Battlezone and Solaris for Atari 2600, Asteroids for Atari 7800 and Alien vs. Predator the Jaguar.

Yes, I know there are a LOT of duplicates. That happens when you acquire old Atari games in bulk from garage sales...
And retro game stores looking to clear out inventory...

I decided to use the contact cleaner on another few problem cartridges as well, this time for the Atari 5200 and Jaguar.

The 4 Jaguar games that I cleaned now work like new. Now I can play Wolfenstein 3d, Club Drive, Checkered Flag and a 2nd copy of Tempest 2000 again! Yay! I might even write reviews for these titles some day. All of them are pretty unique titles that you won't find anywhere else. The Jag version of Wolf3d was very different from all the others. Also, despite Checkered Flag being released on the Atari Lynx in 1991, the 1994 Jaguar version is a completely different experience.

The 2 carts for the 5200 though, still don't work. One tried and did get to the start-up screen but, always had display errors and never passed that screen. Looking at the contacts on those 2 problem carts, I can see a fair amount of corrosion that the quick once-over with the contact cleaner didn't remove. I'll have to work on them a little more at a later date. That being said, getting the 5200 carts to work again would be purely academic. Like many 5200 owners, I don't have any working controllers for that system. :P

So, for my final verdict, I'd say that contact cleaner is well worth having around in one's game room. Isopropyl Alcohol usually works fine but, it's good to have a cleaning product that's industrial strength as well. Considering how terrible all of those old 2600 carts looked before I started this experiment, I'm genuinely amazed that ANY of them started working again.

- Publius

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Feminist Bakesale

Strolling through college campus unaccompanied as I often do. Not worried about being harassed or raped because I am a man. See group of young ladies struggling to set up a folding table. Two strong women have extended the legs and are trying to flip the table upright.

I approach them uninvited and say hello.

One flees, triggered.

"Let me help with that, girls..." I easily flip the table upright with my masculine strength.

Now upright, I can see the sign taped to the table top. FEMINIST BAKESALE.

I give a low-pitched chuckle with my testosterone privileged vocal cords.

"So you girls have been busy in the kitchen, heh? What did you bake?" One strong woman stands with a box to rest on the table. Her eyes are welled with tears at the oppression she is suffering at that moment. "C-cupcakes", she says.

"I love cupcakes! Let me see what you have there..." I reach my phallic hand over and open the virginal box this poor woman was holding, my male gaze objectifying the cupcakes.

"Oh those look good. How much?" Another strong woman speaks up, images of Susan B. Anthony flashing in her head. "They're a Dollar for men because of the corrupt patria--" I stop her short in a textbook case of verbal rape.

"That sounds fine. Give me the whole box." I pull out a capitalist paper bill with the image of a Cis White Male Slave-owner on the front. The strong woman before me whimpers in psychic pain as I hand the bill to her, knowing she has been reduced to a slave -- nay -- a commodity.

"Thank you" she says meekly, feeling violated. I give a sensual grunt as I bite into one of the sweet, moist cupcakes.

"Mmmm..." I replied. "It was my privilege."


ORIGINAL AUTHOR UNKNOWN

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Strange Dreams

I had a particularly interesting nightmare in my last sleep cycle. For whatever reason, I was at the Esplanade Mall in Kenner (Yes, the same one I talked about in the last post) doing some people watching and interacting with real-life friends. I should have known it was just a dream right then and there because one was a High School classmate and the other was an Army buddy. Those two have never met in real life. That, and having significant crowds at a shopping mall these days is kind a weird in and of itself. Especially since it's not Christmas yet...

Anyway, I decide to ditch the line for some (apparently) really popular night club that was there called 'Club Disney.' Yes, it was based on the cartoons and films of the Disney corporation. No, there weren't any people dressed in costumes made the resemble Disney characters. As I'm walking back to the main hallway of the mall, an announcement comes onto the PA system. A voice announces that a small nuclear device had just detonated in New Orleans and we were being told to evacuate the mall. (Nevermind the fact that it probably would have been better to shelter in place until the radiation blew away...) We were then told to avoid any clouds that left a brown shadow on the ground because that was radiation from the bomb. We were also told those brown clouds would cause instant death. Yes, I know that's not how fallout radiation actually works but, that is what happened in the dream.

So, I start booking it for the exit, fighting crowds, Once outside, I start dodging the brown clouds and seeing people not getting out of the way in time. Almost instantly, those poor souls looked like leftovers that just got nuked in the microwave. I make it to my truck and hop inside just before a brown cloud passes VERY close to the vehicle. I then crank the engine and haul ass out of there, possibly hitting a few people in the process. That is where the dream ends.

That is easily the scariest dream I've had in a few weeks. I thought that dream I had about 2 weeks ago with a Xenomorph chasing Sonic the Hedgehog was weird but, this one is sooooo much more messed up...

- Lord Publius

Monday, July 31, 2017

How to revitalize a dead shopping mall...

I've been  watching a lot of videos on YouTube lately about shopping malls and once great retailers (K-Mart, SEARS, et al.) all shutting down or dying on the vine. There's no way to save them all. Most of them screwed themselves out of business one way or another and if they didn't, Amazon sure did. So, I got to thinking about what could be done with that kind of real-estate. For the purposes of this idea, I used a local mall in my hometown that has been slowly dying for years: The Esplanade in Kenner, LA. Here's what I would do in 12 easy steps...

1.) Win Mega Millions OR Powerball Lottery & buy mall from current owners.

2.) Tell most of the current tenants that their leases will not be renewed and hire an architect/contractor to begin the planned remodel/redesign.

3.) Close the place down, except for the Target location there. You'll see why in #6.

4.) Turn stores on the 2nd floor into condos, except for the one-time GameStop location turned overpriced retro game store called Just4Play (assuming it still exists), the Arcade and food court.

5.) Turn stores on 1st floor into office space, preferably for businesses that the condo owners will use. (Barbershops, Dollar Tree, pharmacy, Insurance Agents, et al.)

6.) Use the Target being right next door as a selling point for the condominiums.

7.) The old Gamestop location on the 2nd floor near the food court & Arcade becomes the office for mall security. The Arcade remains an Arcade, but is reserved for residents of the condominiums. Condo residents will all be given a special key to access the Arcade. We may also set some (or all) of the games to free play. Food court is open to both residents and businesses on 1st floor. The movie theater behind the mall will remain open to the public and unaffected by changes at the mall.

8.) Fence off all of the parking lots, except the one by the anchor store that was once Macy's. That one will be used by the businesses on the 1st floor and their customers. The others will be reserved for residents and employees of the property management company. Each spot will be numbered and assigned to condo residents. They will be able to pay a small fee to get a closer spot to the main building. We will also probably have to build a parking garage.

9.) Turn one of the now closed anchor stores (preferably the old Dillard's location) into my Secret Hideout/Mad Scientist Laboratory/Super-villain lair... (Y'all had to know this was going to happen.)

10.) Turn the other anchor stores into more office space and/or long-term storage facilities that are open to the businesses and condo residents that have rented/leased/bought into the property.

11.) Zombie-proof the place, just in case the Zombie Apocalypse isn't complete non-sense...

12.) HOPEFULLY turn a profit.

And that's my idea. It probably wouldn't work but, it sure would be hilarious to see actually happen.

- Lord Publius

Thursday, July 27, 2017

About Transgender people being banned from military service...

I'm gonna be blunt here: President Trump was right to deny military service to Transgender people. He most likely did them a favor. He was advised to deny military service to Transgender people by his military advisers for numerous very good reasons, many of them logistical. I am very glad that he took their advice.However, I won't leave it there. I never have before on posts about social issues and I'm not about to start now. There will be 3 arguments made here, all against the idea of Transgenders serving in the military. The first two were found on a Facebook page that was originally started to stop Hillary Clinton from becoming President. (Thank God that mission was a success.) The final one will be my opinion on the matter. Please do not assume that these arguments are made out of malice or prejudice against Transgender people. That is not the case here. Most of the arguments are about the practical and logistical issues that Transgender soldiers could present. My argument will be about something else. All the stated opinions from the 2 anonymous soldiers are in italicized text and left totally unedited.

An Active Duty Soldier comments on transgenders in the military:


My unit was just briefed on the current regulations for transgender soldiers. The rules for bathrooms and barracks for a transgender TRANSITIONING do no create a clear solution or accommodation. (That last word is key, I'll get to that in a moment). As it stands now, a person with male genitalia, but full breasts, and dresses like a female, would stay in male barracks, and shower in male open bay showers. As in an open room with multiple shower heads on the wall.

 As for what gender a trans soldier is graded as on the army physical fitness test, they are to be graded as their original gender until a doctor signs off that they have completed their transition. This means that a male soldier could be taking hormone suppressors to become female, but while in transition begin failing the PT test as a male because of said hormones. And this could carry on for over year. There is no accommodation for this. The soldier would be counseled and do remedial PT for failing to meet the minimum standards.

 Back to that word accommodation. The military is and has to be a highly mobile force, who's soldiers can live and operate in remote locations, with minimal creature comforts. A tent with 14 cots, port-a-pottys, shower trailers with no privacy. It cannot afford to accommodate special needs. If you have asthma, you can't serve. There's nothing bad about you. You just have a special need. And the same thing goes for someone who's transgender, and especially someone who is transitioning. Serving in the military is not a RIGHT. The military is a force to PROTECT & DEFEND America. It is only for those who are the most able-bodied, and can pull their own weight without help. Needing special showers and living accommodations is an impediment to operational needs.

 Maybe there's room for discussion about allowing people who have FULLY transitioned to serve. But before that happens, I believe the person has far too many special needs. And paying for transition with military money is a waste. And not why the military exists.


This soldier is absolutely correct. The needs of the Army have to come before your needs in most ways. If you have some kind of issue that makes it difficult for the Army to work with you, then you shouldn't be in uniform. That is part of the reason why I got out. I knew that being an Aspie was going to create a lot of problems for me in dealing with the Army's many social situations. In the civilian world, it's pretty manageable and I have a large degree of control over what happens in social situations. That was definitely NOT the case with the Army.


From another soldier:


Correct me if I'm wrong with this; it's my understanding, gender reassignment requires a CONSTANT, LIFELONG daily hormonal regiment? You cannot serve, no one can, if you are prescribe a daily substance. I'm thinking diabetics here. Do you know ANY diabetics who serve? There is simply no guarantee that your service will be able to provide your required medications in all situations and circumstances. It's called fit for duty and I personally know many that were medically discharged after the onset of diabetes or similar constant management illnesses.

My take on this business:

In my time as a soldier, I met ONE person who turned out to be a Transgender. She wasn't a Transgender (as far as I knew) while we served together in the same unit. She is in a gay marriage to another woman and plans to transition to a man. To my knowledge, there has been no surgery or hormone treatments as of yet. I wouldn't dare ask about something that personal. She also stated on Facebook that her unit commander would shelter her from any kind of chapter process as long as possible. I don't know if the Pentagon has issued directives to all services to begin administratively removing known Transgenders in uniform.


All that being said, I have no idea why Transgenders would want to put themselves through the misery that often comes with military service. Most of the people you meet in the military are NOT nice, stable and/or well-adjusted people. Most of them are psychologically damaged somehow, either by the rigors of the job, combat-related PTSD or something else. They also typically fall into a cult-like group psychology where the needs of the unit come before EVERYTHING else, including your personal issues. That group psychology exists because it's necessary to establish good unit-cohesion/communication, which is essential in winning battles and surviving combat. They expect and demand that you have your shit together. Since mental illness and suicide rates are already sky high for Transgender folk, I can't recommend to them that they should join the uniformed services. It's a guarantee that the Army will add to their stress levels and most likely push them over the edge. I saw the Army break quite a few strong, stubborn cis-gendered people. None of them were dealing with a mental illness before that time, either.

The military already has a very big problem with suicide among the troops. 
Transgender people do not need to add to that sad statistic.

No one does.

Also, the military tends to be ultra-conservative with some of its social views. Getting rid of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in 2011 was controversial enough. Even after that, I'm willing to bet most Homosexuals in uniform still kept their bedroom proclivities to themselves. It's not uncommon for hardcore Infantry types to kick the ever-lovin' shit out of someone they merely suspect of being a Homosexual. Don't bother trying to explain to them that not every Homosexual will want to sleep with them or that some of History's greatest warriors were gay. They won't care. (Alexander the Great was a known Homosexual who had gay lovers even when he was married to a woman.) In fact, you'd have an easier time trying to convince the Catholic Church to NOT be an organized crime syndicate.

So, like I said at the beginning, President Trump did Transgenders a favor. Who knows if he meant to do that but, that is still the end result. It takes a very rough kind of individual to even be considered for military service. Very few are going to make the cut. I'm not even sure how I made the cut back in 2009. Knowing what I know about it now though, I can't say I'd do it all over again. They don't like weirdos or free-thinkers. And since I'm quite the free-thinkin' weirdo... Well, I'd have to say that I never really fit, either. Had it not been for some truly desperate economic circumstances in 2009, I wouldn't have even thought about enlistment.

CONCLUSION
If you're a Transgender person that is upset about this decision, don't let it bother you too much. There are other ways you can serve the Republic without joining the military. Every community needs volunteers. Every school system I know anything about is always looking for teachers. You might even be able to mentor younger Transgenders and show them that life isn't all that horrible. You aren't in the military, you are actually allowed to both think creatively and also think for yourselves. Use that to your full advantage.

Kindest regards,

Lord Publius

Sunday, July 9, 2017

July 9th...

July 9th is an interesting day. On this day in 2010, I passed that last PT test in AIT @ Fort Gordon and witnessed a miracle. And that's a long story I will have to tell later, probably on Veteran's Day.

On this day in 2014, my terminal leave ended I was officially out of the Army. So, when I wake up tomorrow, I will no longer be a 'recently separated' veteran. I'm not even sure why that was an important distinction to the VA but, it apparently meant something to them.

All I plan to do to mark that occasion is laugh at Uncle Sam for his foolishness and carry on with my daily life. Despite all the trials and tribulations, I still came out on top. Not to mention getting quite a few unexpected benefits (especially from the VA) from being one of the more insane forms of Federal Government employee...

Coincidentally (or, perhaps not so coincidentally), the sermon at church today was about going through Life's trials. The pastor used the Navy SEALs training regimen and 'Hell Week' as an example. There were several verses used to discuss trials in life but, the most important one were James 1:2-4...

2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Like most people, I wouldn't have thought of any of life's trials (especially the ones I had to endure with the Army) as a good thing in any way. At least, not at the time. However, one often lacks perspective of the big picture when you're in the middle of the screwball situation in question. Besides, those verses came from a letter written by James, the oldest of Jesus' younger siblings that were born to Joseph and Mary. Who am I to try to debate someone who literally grew up with the savior, in addition to walking with him?

EDIT: 9 July 2017 1905 HRS

Just saw on Facebook that today is also the same day that KISS played in New Orleans on their 1996-97 Alive/Worldwide Reunion Tour. That as the first time I got to see my favorite band in concert. Here's a posted for that show...


And you can see a video of that concert here.

- Lord Publius